Here’s a shocker: I have a conservative friend - let us call him Mr. C. to avoid compounding his personal embarrassment at being my pal - who has taken to sending me columns from liberal New York Times writers who support his view that President Barack Obama is a dud.
He first sent a column from Maureen Dowd, whom he praised to high heaven for her Obama apostasy. What a brilliant writer! Of course, he thought she was terrible when she was toasting George W. Bush.
Most recently, he sent me a piece by Frank Bruni, which was about Mr. Obama’s staunchest defenders always blaming his predecessor. No doubt he thought he was a terrible writer, too, until this column, which began with a provocative question: “Whenever Barack Obama seems in danger of falling, do we have to hear that George W. Bush made the cliff?”
Mr. C. and fellow readers of like mind, the answer is yes. Let me irritate you further by explaining why in a friendly manner.
If there’s a sacred commandment in the one true church of conservative belief, it is thou shalt not name the president who must not be blamed, for to name him is to blame him. From the earliest days of the Obama administration, an ironclad type of right-wing political correctness clanged down like a huge gate, fencing off the former president from all who would criticize him.
Anybody who dared make the slightest oblique reference to He Who Must Not Be Named was met with a chorus of “There you go again, blaming Bush.” If I had a dime for every email I received saying this, I would be so rich I could afford a hot dog and a beer at the ballpark without first obtaining a mortgage.
In fact, in right-wing lore, President Obama himself blames his predecessor multiple times a day, month in and month out. He supposedly wakes up in the morning and blames him between yawns. He blames him over breakfast, blames him in midmorning, blames him at lunch and blames in the afternoon, blames in the evening and then blames him after kissing Michelle good night.
If you believe this, and many people do, all I can say is that counseling is available and it will prove useless.
The ordinary, boring truth is that Mr. Obama doesn’t go around blaming the other guy all the time. Early in his administration, he did dare to suggest he had inherited a situation, this before you-know-who was fenced off entirely from all criticism and guarded by a praetorian guard of grumpy old guys with computers.
It is hardly making excuses to remind people of recent history to give some context to current events. In fact, former Vice President Dick Cheney - don’t worry, it’s OK to name him - agrees. We know this because back in June he appeared on Fox News to be interviewed by Megyn Kelly, who at the time liberals thought was terrible.
Mr. Cheney had just written an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal saying the trouble in Iraq with the Islamic State was all Mr. Obama’s fault. The interview seemed to promise an attack by puff-balls. Instead, Ms. Kelly came out throwing rhetorical hand grenades, and immediately liberals thought she was the greatest commentator ever commentating.
“But time and time again, history has proven that you got it wrong as well in Iraq, sir,” she said, going on to list all the gross stupidities of the administration he served as Rasputin in Chief, including the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the almost trillion dollars spent and the 4,500 American lives lost.
And this is how he denied it: “We inherited a situation where there was no doubt in anybody’s mind about the extent of Saddam’s involvement in weapons of mass destruction. .”
Interesting. Inherited a situation? True, the situation he was directly referring to was after 9/11 when further attacks were feared, but you don’t inherit things from yourself, so implicit here is a greater placing of blame.
If looking at former situations was fine for the Bushies, surely it is OK for Mr. Obama and his supporters. Blame him for what he does now, but don’t try to pretend history never happened.
So, Mr. C., yes, whenever Barack Obama seems in danger of falling, we do have to hear that George W. Bush made the cliff, so long as certain people insist on denying all knowledge of him and what he did. Seems fair to me.
Reg Henry is deputy editorial-page editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Readers may email him at rhenrypost-gazette.com.